Author: Owen Roberts

It was a good Friday for Ukrainian planting forecasts

In a rare piece of good news last Friday, the Ukrainian agriculture ministry bumped up its estimate of spring crop planting from 13.4 million to 14 million hectares.
But it’s still a drop in the food bucket for more than 800 million people around the world suffering chronic food insecurity, and forecast to worsen this year. Image: AFP, FAO, USDA.

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Emergency plan needed for foreign workers says food sector

Food and Beverage Canada has called on Ottawa for an emergency foreign worker program to help fill dire labour shortages in those sectors. It’s is a chronic and critical issue, but it seems federal politicians may need a reminder from their constituents about just how significant the impact is – not only for agriculture, but for rebuilding the post-COVID Canadian economy. Photo:

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Working together: A winning approach to curbing emissions

When Ottawa committed to cut fertilizer use by 30 per cent as of 2030, farmers balked. As much as they want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fertilizer is essential for current crop production levels. Now Ottawa’s invited their suggestions on new technologies and practices that might just make that target more feasible. Photo:

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Rail stoppage? Your timing couldn’t be worse

Railway labour woes meant fertilizers almost didn’t make it to North American farmers in time for planting this year. Binding arbitration saved the day, for now. But the impact on world grain markets could have been catastrophic if the railways didn’t run – especially with a greatly depleted grain and oilseed harvest expected from Ukraine and Russia this year. Photo:

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Urban Cowboy

Raising awareness and promoting dialogue about current food and agriculture issues.


Headshot of Owen Roberts

Owen Roberts is a faculty member in the Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communications program at the University of Illinois. As an agricultural journalist, he is the past president of the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists and a lifetime achievement award recipient from the Canadian Farm Writers' Federation. His programs and research papers have been recognized nationally and internationally through awards from the Journal of Applied Communications, the National Agri-Marketing Association, the Association for Communications Excellence, and others.

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